Callers may use a variety of false scenarios or threats to request personal information or payments, often by means of gift cards or prepaid debit cards. The caller may claim to be from a “legal department,” and they may state that one’s Social Security number (SSN) has been involved in fraudulent activity. They may also accuse citizens of committing crimes, and may threaten arrest by Federal marshals.
SSA and OIG employees do contact citizens by telephone for official purposes, and they may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone. However, the calls do not appear on caller ID as the Fraud Hotline number of (800) 269-0271. Also, SSA and OIG employees will never threaten you for information or promise any type of official action in exchange for personal information or payment. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up.
“This caller-ID spoofing scheme is the latest attempt to use Social Security and the OIG’s trusted name to mislead people into providing information or even money over the phone,” Inspector General Ennis said. “I encourage everyone to alert your family and friends about how common these scams are, and to be extremely cautious when speaking with unknown callers, even if you recognize the caller ID.”
Inspector General Ennis urges citizens not to provide any sensitive information, such as SSN or bank account number, over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it. You should also never wire money or add money to a prepaid debt card to pay for any official government service.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA or OIG, you should report that information to the OIG online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report or by calling (800) 269-0271, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission through a new site specific to Social Security scams: https://identitytheft.gov/ssa.